INA – Local U.S. Army recruiter Jim Gracey and three military police K-9 soldiers recently showed some Rend Lake College Criminal Justice students a side of the law they never want to see again.
Gracey and the soldiers introduced the students to Lara, a military working dog, or MWD. More importantly, they introduced the students to Lara’s exceptional ability to pursue and subdue a suspect in flight.
In addition to demonstrating their dog handling skills, SSG Chrans, Sgt. Neveu and SFC Smith, all stationed at Fort Leanord Wood, Mo., talked to the students about their previous deployments to Iraq. They then helped college students William Eubanks of Benton and Mel Straub of Christopher into a protective body suit before ordering Lara to pursue her suspects.
She was quite impressive as she followed the orders of her handler and easily apprehended the “bad” guys who were taken into custody without injury.
Military and civilian police dogs now play an increasingly vital role in investigative work and are used around the world, according to RLC Criminal Justice Professor Ed Heischmidt. In addition to their historical uses of tracking and catching criminals and for controlling crowds, their keen sense of smell and agility makes them experts in finding drugs, explosives, and human remains, he said.
Heischmidt added that the most popular breed for police work is the German shepherd. He said that breed is chosen for its intelligence and highly developed senses, and tends to be more instinctively suspicious of strangers than other breeds.
As the threat of terrorism has increased, these specialist police dogs have become even more important to the military and civilian police. Police dogs like Lara are now being trained to work with cameras attached to their heads, enabling them to enter dangerous places and send pictures back to officers, Heischmidt added.